My wife and I spent last Saturday deep in the heart of southern Indiana, a land whose most outstanding feature is the autumnal color change that sweeps the forests and lures us city folk from our comfort zones for a spell. If you need a break from your internet addiction, it’s an eye-catching time for it, especially since that entire half of the state is largely off the grid and proud of it.
I have older relatives in a few different small towns ’round those parts, including an aunt who lives down a few miles of gravel road, just outside the wee town of Birdseye.
Unfortunately there’s no direct interstate access to her neck of the woods. I can drive the distance in less than 2½ hours if the weather is sunny, the road construction is minimal, and the Sunday drivers all stay home. Strangely, the gravel parts don’t bother me nearly as much as the one-lane, low-speed, snaky highways do. In fact, I save a little gas on some stretches — crossing over a gravel hill can lend the wheels enough momentum to carry my car for several blocks without touching the gas pedal.
Full disclosure: I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to visiting relatives. It’s my understanding that our elders prized this activity in their day, but I never developed the enthusiasm for it. If our family comes up with an event-based reason for two or more of us to gather, I’m fine with that. But going over to someone else’s house and just…sitting and talking? And doing nothing else? You might need to prod me with a sharp stick when my mind retreats into one of its many hidey-holes and my vital signs begin shutting down.
While others chat, my wife and I usually excuse ourselves to go take advantage of the photogenic scenery surrounding us. I’m always ready for quality time with her, and not just because we were miles from the nearest Wi-Fi spot.
Surrounded by deciduous beauty, accompanied by wifely beauty, shone upon with beauty from above…I refuse to complain about strolling this particular stage. Even the muddy terrain around us has its colorful panoply, a temporary gift from the canopy overhead.
For this particular trip, one of my aunt’s dogs accompanied us on our walk — ran ahead, waited for us to catch up, and pounced on me playfully when we did. Finn is one of several pets who freely roam the acres and call this home 24/7 — no mere dabbler like us.
Full-time country living is not for me. I couldn’t handle living dozens of miles from the nearest comic book shop, their prospects for white-collar employment opportunities seem scarce, and I have to wonder if their “high-speed internet” has broken the 56K barrier yet. Nevertheless, we mollycoddled suburbanites enjoyed these moments of cathartic getaway from workaday tension. They’re a necessary reminder that not all the best things in life were the inventions of man.